Saturday, June 21, 2014

Dr. Leonardo Cerebelli, 1830—1897(?)

Although no official written documents remain, credible accounts indicate that Leonardo Cerebelli was born in 1830 in New York’s Flatbush community to grocers Enzo and Aurora Cerebelli.  Nevertheless, Cerebelli was dogged for much of his life by rumors he was truly the son of notorious Cosa Nostra mafioso Nunzo “Il Capo” Tosto, fearsome patron of a post-feudal Sicilian cosca, or crime family.  Il Capo had reputedly sired dozens of illegitimate children and sent them abroad to appease his domineering spouse.  Anecdotal evidence suggests that Leonardo was spirited out of Sicily as an infant, hidden in a shipment of castelvetrano olives bound for New York.

Clever and industrious, young Leonardo excelled in his schoolwork but chafed at his duties in the family business.  This fractious state of affairs was typified by one of Leonardo’s earliest experiments, an inquiry into chaos theory in which the eight-year-old prodigy dropped hundreds of fragile inventory items to the floor and took detailed notes.  His father was horrified, as was his instructor, who labelled Leonardo’s pioneering work “unadulterated rubbish.”  Leonardo’s wry humor began to emerge as he coined derogatory Latin nicknames for regular customers, until his sly linguistic indiscretions were detected by one of his father’s business associates, after which time Leonardo took up Ancient Greek.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Liquid History

Historical Background Note for Volume 1, Chapter 14: The 1825 Perrier-Jouët champagne Mrs. Mackenzie retrieves from the wine cellar is historically accurate, and would have been a very fine fifty-two-year-old bottle of champagne when Magnetron smashed it across the bow of the Caelestis. Indeed, one of the last remaining bottles of this vintage was uncorked in 2009 for a “liquid history” tasting by wine experts, one of whom described the still-bubbly libation as “generous with an intense nose.”

Read more about Perrier-Jouët champagne and its history at:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Great Magnetron Logophile Challenge

Last April, I sent out a challenge to loyal Magnetron fans:

Calling all logophiles, verbivores, and other ostentatiously learned geeks: Share your favorite obscure English word to win fabulous prizes (okay, they'll probably just be free ebooks). Top responses will be strategically deployed in my next book, The Kraken of Cape Farewell--with appropriate attribution of course!

Our judges have been hard at work choosing the winners, who are listed below with their winning entries:

  • Hugh McCormick - Apricity, Hugger Mugger, Jollux, Snow-broth
  • Jordan Bryant - Cantankerous
  • Clarence Bonner - Defenestration
  • Tracy Abernathy - Droud
  • Christy Lynn Foster - Gorgonize, Groak, Jargogle
  • James McAllister - Shankalicious (way to make things difficult, James!)
These six lucky and ostentatiously learned geeks will each receive a free copy of Rise of the Hogalum Society in the ebook format of their choice, and will be suitably immortalized in the acknowledgments section of the next book in the Magnetron Chronicles series, The Kraken of Cape Farewell.

Congratulations one and all and thanks for playing!